Published on September 11, 2012 at 3:51 AM
She earned her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Harvard in 1967. Following a postdoctoral fellowship in Cambridge, England, she joined the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, working her way up from assistant professor (1970) to chair of the department (1996-1999).
Steitz is perhaps best known for discovering and defining the function of small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs), cellular complexes that play a key role in splicing and processing pre-messenger RNA - the earliest product of DNA transcription.
She has also discovered the roles that snRNPs play in autoimmune diseases such as lupus, and in the ability of herpes and other viruses to invade and replicate within host cells.
Steitz is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. She was selected as the fifth Rosalind E. Franklin Award Lecturer for Women in Science by the National Cancer Institute.
Her awards include the National Medal of Science, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research (shared with Nobel laureate and 2007 Vanderbilt Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D.).
Source: Vanderbilt University Medical Center